Identify a chamois, horns and coat.
Chamois can be easily distinguished by their small ebony black horns which unlike the Cervidae keep them during their entire life. The horns develop themselves from the birth and are visible by the second month. The hook on males horns is much visible than females one.
Males wear a mane on their backbone, also known as ’barb’, which can measure 30cm-high during the rutting season while in summer it only size 5 to 7 cm. Thanks to strong muscles, mane hairs can raise vertically. The color of the coat depends on the seasons : dark during winter, brighter in summer.
Get nearer without disturbing him
Chamois distinguish a move at a semi-kilometer in the half-light. However this animal has difficulties to identify motionless objects, far but also near to him. Their hearing is used to sounds linked to human activities. But they pay great attention to unusual sounds. To identify danger, they use their most developped sens : smell. This sens enables them to confirm, thanks to the wind, the presence of unwelcomed guests at more than 500 meters.
If you don’t mind about his develloped senses, you will see the fearful animal running away. Even with a large length, your photo won’t be as good. So pay great attention on how you get near to this animal and never enter in his space. If he smells you, if he sees you, he will walk away.
The life of chamois’ groups
During the rutting season on October, males become really aggressive against his counterparts. In the group, there are also females, goats. In June, females leave the group to give birth to a young goat that she will breed for a year. Twenty days after, little humps appear, announcing the horns. A young goat cannot leave by himself during the first four months. The last animal composing theis family is the ’bréhaigne’, a sterile and old female. The group can be formed of a hundred chamois but also only few ones sometimes.
Where can we find them ?
During spring chamois leave the forest that protected them during winter and go higher to look for green. This is during the same period that begins the moulting that will continue during 3 months. Their habitat and places where they go through are invaded of hairs. It is common to find tufts hanging to the trees’bark.
At the end of May - beginning of June are births. Less than an hour after, young goats can stand up, and after a week or two, they can integrate the group as they are perfectly capable to follow it in cliffs and forests.
Att he end of summer - beginning of autumn takes place the second moulting, less impressive as they loose their summer coat and new darker hairs grow. Autumn is the rutting season.
During winter, the food is rare...and mortality at its highest rate, even more with the thickness of snow. Chamois can only eat shrubs and the few visible grass. The group can live at very low altitudes, when human beings are not there.
Most of us think that chamois only live in mountains, what is a completely false idea. In the Alpes, they are forced by the humankind to live there. The altitudes that they prefer are forest zones and lower part of rural zones, between 800 and 2300m. Higher, they are limited by the limited presence of food, no grass grow at 3000m and more. If humankind isn’t present, the group can live at very low altitudes, as for example in Jura or Vosges du Sud, and until 600m. Where chamois are present, the relief is hilly and rocky.